Saturday, June 12, 2004

What is at Stake for France

(A translation of a Le Monde editorial from June 12, 2004)

Although the June 13th elections are called “European,” you don’t have to be a scholar to know that these elections implicate considerable national interests. This is true for each of the 25 counties of the European Union, including the ten new members who will elect, for the first time, their representatives to the strange Parliament that migrates each month from Brussels to Strasbourg.

The first question is how the main parties in contention with one another will perform. According to the latest polls, the Socialist Party should come in first, with around 26% of the vote. This should be a dozen points more than the UMP. The President’s party will reap the fruits of its labors during this election. Its most significant failure—and a blow to Jacque Chirac’s ambitions—will be its inability to unite conservatives.

In the wake of a dull campaign that sought to avoid friction between the pro-Europeans and the nationalists, the UMP runs the risk of finding itself torn apart by warring factions on the Right. The UDF of François Bavrou, as Europhile as ever, shows, each day, its capacity to endure, and it attracts a significant swathe of moderate voters. For its part, the Movement for France, led by Philippe de Villiers, will rake in the votes of Euroskeptics who feel an affinity for this great attacker of Brussels and for his efforts to bridge the divide between the Right and the Far Right.

The protest vote against the veteran politicians—which a majority of the French wish—will, paradoxically, have few real consequences. In spite of two consecutive defeats in regional and European elections, Mr. Chirac will keep Jean-Pierre Raffarin at Matignon. The political situation will remain the same for now. Mr. Chirac can take advantage of the fact that the next elections will not likely take place until 2007. However certain voters might consider Mr. Chirac’s actions to be an effort to sweep a failure under the rug. And the lack of impact of these elections will likely provide yet one more justification for some not to vote.

This lack of hope, of a clear and inspiring plan, of ambitions and dynamism, is leading more and more voters to stay at home. The lack of interest is growing out of control: two-thirds of the French are not interested in this election. The growing distance between the Brussels’ decision-makers and the electorate in addition to the tendency of our leaders to place blame for any ill on Brussels are partially responsible for the French electorate’s indifference.

Nor is the Left immune from criticism. The Socialist Party has succeeded in organizing itself, but, instead of airing its members’ differences of opinion on Europe as it has done in the past, it has (although with good reason) emphasized the priority to be given to European social policies. Between the sound bites of possible presidential candidates and the calculated appearances of Lionel Jospin, the Socialist Party is up to its old tricks and warring ambitions which, in turn, merely contribute to this political crisis.

"The Lies, the Manipulation, and the Pressure of Every Type"

The independant newspaper announces that the cover story of its weekly Le Monde 2 will be devoted to
The story of the lies, the manipulation, and the pressure of every type exercised by the peace camp to keep a psycopath in power in Baghdad.
Ha, ha, just kidding. You didn't really believe that, did you?! You're so gullible. No, here is the actual cover story.
The story of the lies, the manipulation, and the pressure of every type exercised by the Bush team to take the United States to war.
Thank goodness for the newspaper of reference. What would the French citizenry do without it?

Meanwhile, France 2 announces it will show a documentary denouncing the "trickeries" of the head of state. Jacques Chirac? Of course, not. The documentary of the state-owned television channel is called "The World According to Bush". (It is based on the book La guerre des Bush "which reveals strange shadowy zones around the Iraq conflict"; apparently the strange shadowy zones of the French, Russians and other peace camp members are not worth speaking, and writing, about.)

(And what a good thing it is that, in France, they don't "forcefeed dogma" to people, young and otherwise, but teach them "to keep their minds open until they can figure out the truth or falsity of a thing for themselves". No, here in France they do not "control every aspect of their education, make them recite approved creeds by rote, and severely punish any dissent". The French quest to have every last citoyen explore thoroughly every aspect and every viewpoint of every issue is never-ceasing. How on Earth could you think anything different?)

Friday, June 11, 2004

"The Battle of Normandy, Invasion or Liberation?" It's Just a Debate!

How far is too far? And is it really ridiculous to say that the French are America's betrayers? Is it just that there is some disagreement between the two countries now, and you shouldn't expect a friend to follow blindly in another friend's footpaths? And anyway, it's only with Washington that there is disapproval, not with the American people. Right?

As a senior adviser at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), Dominique Moïsi can usually be relied on to parrot the monolithic thought that pretty much everything American is excessive and can only succeed if tempered by the reasonable advice of Europeans with a humanitarian bent. But in his IHT article on the Lessons of D-Day, even he thought some people went too far.

…I am afraid the torch of memory may stop with these old veterans if new generations are not taught history.

On the eve of D-Day ceremonies, an association dedicated to the memory of Saint-Lô as it was before the destruction of the city organized a debate in the local theater involving two veterans, survivors of the bombing of the city and high school students aged 15 to 17.

The title of the debate, suggested by questions from the students, was "The Battle of Normandy, Invasion or Liberation?" It was the first troubling sign of the deterioration of the knowledge and understanding of the past.

The questions from the students were even worse. It was clear they were reading D-Day through the filter of Iraq. Their conversation with the survivors of the bombing of the city was most revealing. How could you welcome Americans as liberators, asked the young boys and girls, after they had reduced your city to ashes? Because "it was a sacrifice for France," replied their elders, shocked by the question.

How convenient that in the land of Descartes, debates should just happen to put into doubt, directly or indirectly, positive views about the United States! (And rarely, if ever, positive views about, for instance, the "fact" that the French and Europeans are so humanitarian to begin with.)

Oh, and by the way — to the Cartesian intellectuals who organized the debate (and who even dreamed it up): How brilliant of you to put into doubt the sacrifice of those who helped to bring down Hitler's Nazi tyranny! To the students: We thank you profusely for the respect you have thus paid to the memory of the Allied troops who were cut down on June 6, 1944, and in the succeeding months. And since the debate was inspired by the students' questions… to the French people: we thank you for creating such an overpowering America-is-the-real-enemy climate that your children think nothing of asking for debates such as these. Encore une fois, merci.

Sue me, faggot Faites-moi un procès, lopette
More ridiculous laws on hate speech are in the pipeline. Rest assured that hate speech against Americans and Jews will be ignored (Dieudonné was just acquitted for his Isra'Heil sketch). So here goes: Butt pirate, fudgepacker, fruit. As for sexist commentary: Lesbo, hole, bitch, slut, whore, slit, cock-teaser. Call the cops, cunt.
Encore de la législation ridicule est dans le tuyau pour punir les propos haineux. Vous pouvez partir du principe que les propos haineux anti-américains et antisémites seront passés sous silence (Dieudonné vient de se faire relaxer pour son sketch Isra'Heil). Alors, on y va: Pédé, tarlouze, fiotte, pédale. Quant aux propos sexistes: Gouine, trou, salope, traînée, pute, pouffiasse, allumeuse. Appelez les flics, pétasse.

They earn peanuts anyway Pays de gagne-petits
More French grandstanding. There are looking to ban SUVs from Paris streets. The fact is that average French disposable income means no one can afford the things anyway.
Encore les franchouilles qui roulent les mécaniques. Les politicards fwançais vont tenter d'interdire les 4x4 dans les rues de Paris. De toute façon, le revenu disponible du français moyen fait que personne ne peut se permettre d'acheter ces engins.

Fencing in the beasts Emmurer les bestiaux
The Terrorist Entity otherwise known as the Pali Psycho Death Cult©®™ would never be as non-belligerant if the shoe were on the other foot.
L'Entité Terroriste également connue sous le nom du Culte Psychotique de la Mort palestinien©®™ ne serait jamais si peu belliqueux si la situation était retournée.

France is the enemy ... La France est un pays ennemi ...
... because France sides with the enemy.
... car la Fwance se range du côté des ennemis.

France Bulletin

Papon to be told 'no' for the last time

To-morrow, Maurice Papon, 93, will receive the decision in the last possible appeal of his 1998 war crimes conviction. His previous appeal was denied last April.

A plenary session of the court of appeals, it's most solemn formation, will consider the legality of his arrest on April 2, 1998 by the Gironde court of assizes. (The court will not reconsider Papon's guilt). Papon's lawyers argued that the arrest was illegal in 1999 but, before his case could be heard, French law required that Papon enter prison. Instead of doing so he fled to Switzerland, nullifying the appeal.

The practice of requiring incarceration before the process of appealing the original conviction has been exhausted (known as "mise en état") has been condemned several times by the European Human Rights Convention (CEDH), to which Papon's lawyers took his case.

Papon currently resides in Gretz-Armainvilliers (Seine-et-Marne).

Attrocity Remembered

On June 10, 1944, the Der Führer Regiment of the Das Reich 2nd Waffen-SS Panzer Division destroyed the small village of Oradour-sur-Glane (Haute-Vienne), killing 642 people, including 213 children and 246 women.

Prime minister Rafarrin attended ceremonies commemorating the 60th anniversary of the massacre.

"France has never forgotten. France will never forget," he said, adding that the ceremonies were an "absolute necessity," after those commemorating the "liberating allied landings."

At the moment when "hope was reborn on the beaches of Normandy," the "nameless, the inexplicable, the unforgettable was committed" in this Limosin village, said Raffarin, expressing his "profound respect for such suffering," but also his "unshakable faith in the destiny of our country and the triumph of its values."

The SS division that committed the atrocity included Alsatians forcibly enlisted by the Germans, known as "malgré-nous," ("despite ourselves"). At a 1953 trial, 13 of the malgré-nous were convicted and then pardoned by parliament, acting under pressure from Alsatian MPs and provoking outrage among the inhabitants of Oradour.

PM Raffarin heard accounts of the two remaining survivors, Marcel Darthout, 80, and Robert Herbas, 79, and then went to the Memorial Esplanade, where the French military chorus sang "La Prière de Saint-François d'Assise" by François Poulenc, Resistance anthem Le Chant des partisans and the national anthem, Marseillaise.

German chancellor Shröder also paid homage to the victims of Oradour on Sunday.

Epinay Serial Batterer to be Arraigned

Authorities have identified our nutcase. His name is Eskander Geffine and he denies the charges, preferring to speak of a "mysterious plot," which the police say "doesn't hold water."

The police say he is "somewhat mystical" and "very interested by matters of religion," often attending a Paris mosque. They add that he doesn't even fit the profile of "a moderate Islamist, let alone a radical one," though his family "is very observant." Israel Ifrah, the 18 year-old Jew among his victims, has regained consciousness and identified a photo of the man, corroborating the statements of the other victims. However, Ifrah said he wasn't "100% certain."
Racist Cow Bardot Fined €5,000... Again

For the third freekin' time, the woman who suffered history's most catastrophic decline in good looks has been fined for hate speech.

In May, NP readers learned that Brigitte Bardot had been dragged to court again. The court handed down its decision to-day, fining Bardot and her publisher, éditions du Rocher, €5,000 each.

Passages of her book, "A Cry in the Silence" denounce interracial marriage and Islam and also castigate the unemployed, homosexuals, women in government and Muslims in general.

Bardot was fined for similar reasons in 1997 and again 1998.

Widespread Underground Collapses Threaten France

The Bureau of Geological and Mining Resourcesannounced that more than 500,000 of France's underground cavities are liable to sink, if not to collapse entirely.

Most are located in urban areas in the north and 70% to 80% are man made. Normandy is one of the most heavily affected regions: the two departments in the Haute-Normandie (Seine-Maritime and Eure) region have between 100,000 and 120,000 such potential sink holes alone.

The surface of much of france is limestone and from the 17th to the 19th centuries, farmers created the cavities when they mined for chalk in order to make fertilizer.

One collapse in November of 1993 caused the derailment of one of France's high-speed trains, the TGV. The BRGM, however, has only located about 20,000 potential sink holes in 13 departments.

Dieudo & Euro-Palestine List Assail Israel(i Policy)

Along with the newly formed political party Euro-Palestine, Dieudonné gathered 2,000 people on a sports ground Tuesday night for the sole purpose of violently attacking Israeli policy, according to the AP.

On May 27, the Paris criminal court acquitted Dieudonné of charges of hate-speech during a television program in which he appeared as masked orthodox Jew and gave a Nazi salute, saying "IsraHeil!" He was greeted Tuesday evening with a hero's welcome. Dieudonné is third on the party's list.

After the presentation of the party's candidates before a largely Maghreban crowd, the editorial cartoonist Siné (Charlie Hebdo) urged the crowd to boo and hiss at France's Jewish celebrities as well as Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Dominique Strauss-Khan.

One Event, Many Titles

Bush and Chirac Break Any Tension With a Joke About Food
--NY Times

Chirac Frustrates Bush's Plans on Iraq and the Greater Middle East
--Courrier International

NATO and Cheeseburgers

G8 summit ends without US-French agreement
--Al Jazeera

French President won't go casually to the G8

A Facade of Unity between Chirac and Bush
--Le Monde

Le Worm turns on Blair
--The Sun

Thursday, June 10, 2004

and now...

Someone who actually deserved a state funeral...

Who did Paris 2009?

Recently, a lot of Web searches for the Latin text of the Lord's Prayer ended up at my post of some time ago on 11,000 lbs of amonium nitrate that went missing from a sea port in northern France. I was reminded of that prayer because the substance has been used in famous terrorist attacks, including Oklahoma and more recently in Madrid: the thought that such a large amount had gone unaccounted for made me sick to my stomach.

Bear that in mind as you discover that Reuters reported yesterday (Hat tip: Watch) that on Monday Milanese police detained a group of alleged Islamist militants — one personally linked to the Madrid bombings — who the police say were preparing to attack the Paris metro in a similar manner (trains, cellphones; one is left to wonder if they also have that missing amonium nitrate...). Acting on information from the Italian police, Belgian authorities then arrested 15 suspected accomplices, four of whom they are currently holding "on suspicion" and of whom another four are being deported while the remaining seven have been released due to lack of evidence. The Milanese police also say they have passed all relevant information on to French authorities. Reuters learned from Belgian judicial sources that the Brussels group planned to use the city as a base of operations for attacks in other cities, as well.

Reuters claim to have been shown a 27-page arrest warrant that named former Egyptian explosives expert Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed (aka "Mohammed the Egpytian") whom police suspect, according to Reuters, of having played "a lead role" in the Madrid bombings. Rabei was arrested along with another unnamed person, allegedly a coconspirator.

In transcripts of telephone intercepts included in the arrest warrant, one alleged conspirator can be heard talking to Rabei: "He is ready to go to (Paris). The plan is going well but controls are tight." In May, the same person says: "Mohammed is ready for martyrdom."

The Associated Press also reported yesterday that the transcripts make mention of a woman supposedly prepared to carry out chemical a attack in the US. Other attacks mentioned in the transcripts concern Iraq. An Italian prosecutor says he has trasmitted all relevant info to US authorities (one hopes they're aware of this...)

In February, Guardian columnist Timothy Garton Ash wrote a provocative column purporting to be a future analysis of a nuclear attack supposedly to occur in Paris on 8/17/09:
The supremely cultured heart of one of the most beautiful cities in the world was reduced to smouldering ruins. None of us will ever forget the photograph of Rodin's statue of Balzac, looming as if in tortured grief above the half-dismembered but recognisable corpses of a young couple on the Boulevard Raspail.

The inquiry of the Annan commission must be rigorous, impartial and international. It must have the full cooperation of all the intelligence services involved, especially since their own earlier failure to cooperate with each other seems to have been one reason the attack was not prevented. President Hillary Clinton of the United States and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France were right to say, in their joint statement, that history will not forgive us if we leave any stone unturned.

Of course we must await the findings of the Annan commission, but now is the time to suggest places it should look. The former UN secretary general and his colleagues should not confine themselves to recent developments. They will surely find that the roots of the catastrophe of 2009 are in mistakes made in the years 2002 to 2004.


Predictably enough, the familiar, balding figure of Sir Tony Blair, the former prime minister, rose from his regular place in the House of Commons to say, in effect, "I told you so". Well, he would say that wouldn't he? The task of the Annan commission is now to determine, rigorously and impartially, how far he was right.

The West's choice: pull out of everywhere or fight Le dilemme de l'Occident: se retirer de partout ou se battre
So what's it going to be then? Are we into animal rights or human rights? (I'm not talking about the sludge called 'human rights' by the UN and assorted usual suspects.) Kill faster. Total war.
Alors, on fait quoi au juste? On se donne dans les droits pour les bestiaux ou pour les êtres humains? (Je ne parle pas de ce concentré de ramassis merdique que l'ONUzi et consorts appelent 'les droits de l'homme'.) Tuer plus vite. Guerre totale.

Read it and weep Les franchouilles n'ont que leurs yeux pour pleurer
Le Monde Al-Jazeera on the Seine has no choice but to report on 'George W. Bush's undeniable victory' before the UN. Serguei has gone into hiding. He didn't scribble a damn thing for us yesterday.
Le Monde Al-Jazira sur Seine n'a pas d'autre choix que de relater 'une indéniable victoire pour George W. Bush' devant l'ONUzi. Du coup, Serguei se fait tout petit. Il ne nous a rien gribouillé du tout.

New spin on a tired angle Dépoussiérage d'une devise éculée
Graffiti seen in Paris yesterday: 'Bush = Hitler = Stalin = Napoleon'.
Graffiti vu dans Paris hier: 'Bush = Hitler = Staline = Napoléon'.


Asif Safi, a French national of Pakistani origin, is suing the US government, claiming he was mistreated while held after September 11 at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. His charges are similar to those made by others, also held at the MDC.

Nutcase vs. Anti-Semitic Nutcase?

Last Saturday, W. blogged the stabbing of a young Jew in Epinay-sur-Seine (Seine-Saint-Denis).

The police have arrested a man in connection with the crime. They now allege that he committed a series of such crimes of which most of the victims, several of whom have been seriously wounded, are not Jews: an Arab, a Haitian, a Portuguese man and a Breton pensioner.

A source familiar with the case said that "investigators think that the same man committed each crime but there is no coherence or logic to the acts."

At 5:45 PM on Tuesday, police detained a 32 year-old unemployed accountant of Maghreban origin in the street in possession of a knife. One of his victims identified him during a television interview. In all, police allege the man committed nine such crimes in the space of three days, all in the same area of Epinay. He has no police record and no history of mental illness. Police found a big flag at the mans home with the Arabic words Allahu Akbar ("God is Greater") written across it, which the man allegedly shouted when stabbing his Jewish victim. He was subsequently identified positively by several of the others.

However his Jewish victim, Israel Ifrah, whom doctors had earlier expected to make a quick recovery, has had to undergo another round of surgery and has not been able to identify him because of this. A Conservative Catholic Web site has posted rumors stemming from personal messages left at the UPJF Web site according to which the boy, 18, has suffered a hemorrhage and fallen into a coma.

Prior to the arrest developments, Le Monde published an editorial entitled "Wounded France":
It is happening in France. In Europe. In this country, on this continent where Jews were hated, persecuted and exterminated. Two days before the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the allied landing in Normandy, which was to signify the beginning of the end of Nazi barbarism, a young French Jew, wearing a kippa, was assaulted in the middle of the street by a man who dealt him a blow with a knife to his chest, shouting "Allahu Akbar." This happened on June 4, in Epinay-Sur-Seine, in Seine-Saint-Denis, not far from the talmudic institute of Nekor Israel, where the the boy is a student. Fortunately, his injuries appear not to be life-threatening.

Anti-Semitism has reached a new level. One can only draw a link between the two events: again! once more! Jews are the victims of insults, assaults and hatred! In Europe. In France. One can only share the feeling of fear and revulsion that has taken hold of France's Jewish community before such recidivism.
Interior minister de Villepin immediately arrived on the scene however he had only just returned from Boulogne-Billancourt where he'd congratulated the cops on arresting the five youths who had insulted and hit the son of rabbi. He says 76 people have been arrested since the start of the year for having committed anti-Semitic acts.

Meanwhile, Justice minister Dominique Perben held a press conference to announce that to date the French government has recorded 180 anti-Semitic acts (including assault and arson) in 2004, of which, he said, all but 35 have gone unpunished because authorities have so far been unable to identify the perpetrators; and six of those cases did not result in prosecution: in one case, the perpetrator was only six; in two others, the perpetrators were let off with warnings; in another two, the matter was settled after the aggressors agreed to make reparations. The last had to be let go due to lack of evidence.

Interior minister de Villepin has also announced the creation of an anti-Semitism squad for each of France's 96 departments. "After a sharp rise in anti-Semitic acts in 2002 and a steep decline in their number in 2003, there has been a detectable rise in the first trimester of 2004: 67 such acts against 24 in all of last year. Such acts are unacceptable in our Republic," he said. (I'm guessing the discrepancy between the numbers given by de Villepin and Perben (180 / 67) is due to the nature of offenses that fall under the purview of each ministry? Somebody help me out here...)

Coincidentally, the Interior ministry announced a "spectacular drop in Crime in France during the month of May."

A Peculiar Reconciliation

(A translation of an article by Bruno Odent from l’Humanité)

The G8 Summit began yesterday evening amidst a flurry of security precautions in the south of the United States. The heads of the most powerful countries in the world (U.S., Canada, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Japan and Russia) have barricaded themselves on Sea Island—a private island reserved for billionaires off of the Georgia coast. There should be a certain rapprochement between the larger Western states. It is as if, concerned about the preservation of a seemingly fragile economic growth and therefore worried about finding a way to resolve the numerous areas of instability (war, social tensions, and ethnic and religious conflicts) that threaten the globe, the Eight believe themselves to be damned to an alliance of “reason.”

After the widely publicized celebration or the transatlantic reunion during the 60th anniversary of the Allied landing, the G8 Summit will be marked by the finalization of a resolution on Iraq in the Security Council, which symbolizes this new desire for unity. It is paradoxical that this resolution was based on the proposals of George W. Bush, the principal troublemaker of the past few years.

In fact, we are witnessing two movements. On one hand, quickly losing popularity in the United States because of the government’s lies and the war crimes committed on Iraqi soil, Bush absolutely needs to launch a counter-offensive in order to polish his foreign policy, only four months from the presidential election. Hence the push to present a time table for exiting the crisis, while giving an international legitimacy to the transition in Iraq and to the role that the American and Coalition troops will continue to play. On the other hand, European countries, such as France and Germany, which were among the most hostile to the war, claim to have obtained enough concessions—notably on the length of the American military presence, which should not extend beyond 2005, according to the text of the resolution—to grant some of Washington’s wishes. In fact, there is a fear that the persistent chaos in Iraq will continue to feed an unbridled speculation on oil prices. And there is concern everywhere, but especially in Paris and in Berlin, that this situation will threaten the short-winded economy recovery taking place in Western Europe.

Faced with his troubles, George W. Bush should not find it too difficult to adapt the whims of the Franco-German critics of Washington’s unilateralism to the more classical position of American imperialism by using the type of multilateralism symbolized by the Iraqi resolution compromise.

This peculiar reconciliation may leave its mark on all aspects of the G8 Summit. This is particularly true of the Greater Middle East, one of the Bush Administration’s favorite themes. This project is designed to pacify and subjugate a strategic region, running from Mauritania to Afghanistan. It rightfully raises suspicions of Washington which, under the pretext of spreading democracy, is trying to impose “an American model and system of control” on the countries in the region. Nonetheless, a consensus is forming around the adoption of certain proposals which should fully satisfy the Bush team, obsessed with the restoration of the president’s image.

The bogusly solid transatlantic alliance is also evident with respect to the policies on the world’s poor, even though it is also true that the contradictions, differences of opinion—even conflicts of interest—between the US and France and Europe are significant. The White House has proposed reducing taxes and other fees collected by banks on money sent by immigrants to their family members in the immigrants’ homelands. According to American experts, this would free up $100 billion that could be used to finance “micro-projects” in developing nations. If the sheer evil of a system that forces immigrants to shoulder the development of their countries of origin is barely mentioned by Europeans, the French delegation has nonetheless described this proposal as “too liberal.” And Jacques Chirac, determined as usual to appear to be the third-world champion, has emphasized public funds for development. The problem is that Europe has not increased its contributions and remains far from the United Nations’ objective for wealthy countries: contributions of 0.7% of GNP to financial aid for developing countries (Europe has not even obtained half of this yet).

As in previous summits, a meeting has been arranged for tomorrow between certain African heads of state, such as the Senegalese Abdoulaye Wade, the South African Tabo Mbeki, and the Nigerian Olesegun Obasanjo. The United States, proud of its doctrine of “trade for aid,” plans to advance its project entitled “millennium challenge account.” This consists of encouraging developing countries to observe certain liberal economic norms, the best practitioners of which will win significant aid. The Americans’ strategy has been soundly criticized by international authorities. A recent United Nations report devoted to the least developed countries demonstrates how economic liberalization destroys the poorest. Paris has criticized Washington; but once again the proposal that France supports, together with Europe—the New Partnership for Africa’s Development—is not much better. An emphasis is placed on liberal, “good governance,” which would no longer be imposed by outsiders but—a supreme refinement—would be thoughtfully imposed by Africans, themselves, before their peers. In the end, this is not very different from the American plan. It is a far cry from the ever-increasing need to co-develop with Southern countries.

As for the struggle against terrorism—that is to say, the security measures that should be implemented to the capitalist globe in crisis—it will be front and center during the G8 Summit, without ever challenging the peculiar, transatlantic reconciliation.

Nonetheless George W. Bush intends to put pressure on his partners to obtain the records of passengers—in particular, those who are traveling to the United States. The leaders seem willing to give in to the desiderata of the White House. The French argue that the most confidential information will remain protected, as required by the Commission informatique et liberté. However the European Counsil has just agreed to ask airline companies to hand over to US authorities the personal data of passengers on flights to the United States.

The IHT's D-Day Coverage

The International Herald Tribune is rightly devoting this week to a series of D-Day articles, along with a reading list and slide shows of D-Day photos and of June 1944 front pages (from its predecessor, the New York Herald Tribune). Some titles:Check all of these out, as well as the other stories (with more on Thursday and Friday). But I'd especially like to quote a passage from David Stafford's piece:
Recently, in researching for a book about D-Day, I stumbled on a secret diary kept by a Resistance leader in a Gestapo prison. He had pricked out its words on pieces of toilet paper, rolled them up tightly, and dropped them down the ventilation shaft in his cell, where they were recovered after the war. In solitary confinement he spent much of his time wondering when D-Day would come. "It is only those who are under the Gestapo's whip," he wrote in one of his entries, "with the death sentence as an ever-threatening danger, who completely understand what victory means."
It kind of makes you wonder, do the French understand that people in Saddam Hussein's jails may have uttered similar words while the mass graves filled up with 300,- to 400,000 corpses over three decades ("It is only those who are under the Mukhabarat's whip, with the death sentence as an ever-threatening danger, who completely understand what victory means")? Or is that something that should be dismissed, and mocked, out of hand, as the French are so wont to do?

Also, check out the Mike Lester cartoon at the bottom of this page, the Kirk Walters cartoon at the bottom of this page, the Robert Ariail cartoon at the bottom of this page, and the Danish cartoon at the top of this page.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Le Point Is No Longer the Mag You Thought It Was

Le Point has a cover story on the US, with a comic-strip-type balloon emerging from the Statue of Liberty, saying "I am not the one you think I am".

Although the idea of the conservative weekly is to suggest that there are multiple facets of life in America and let's not omit the positive, it never deviates from the prevalent monolothical thought: that Bush's domestic detractors are right (just as invariably right as America's foreign critics), that the war was/is catastrophic, that Bush lied about WMD, and that the moral dimension of Saddam's dictatorship was "swept away" by the discovery of American "torture".

Two or three years ago, I heard a colleague with a French journalist card complain that Le Point was too pro-American. What a good thing that Paris is getting that publication under its control too. Remember the rules, les gars: no room for ambiguity when it comes to America and its allies!

Le Point's rallying to the self-serving opinion of the French masses and powers-that-be has been visible for some time: The January 2 cover showed a forlorn-looking Jacques Chirac with the words France Punished: Bush's Revenge and listing five types of vengeance (exclusion from Iraq contracts, opposition to France as the location for the Iter energy project, being side-lined from the Libya deal, alleged unfair treatment in the Executive Life scandal, and, the most ridiculous of all, the Air France slap [keeping an Air France flight grounded on December 24 because of terrorist concerns, when the same thing occurred with a British Airways airliner]). All in a "poor us" tone, "it's unfair, we only wanted to further the cause of peace".

Showing Chirac and Villepin on the cover of its March 14, 2003, issue, Le Point asked: Are They Going Overboard? But the (supposedly objective) language of journalists Domnique Audibert and Romain Gubert in covering "four months of escalation" serves throughout to reinforce France's preconceptions about itself as heroic, moderate, and reasonable and those about America and its allies as… well, you know the story by now. Examples (all cases of emphasis are mine):

  • "Chirac seems surprisingly serene. As if, after a lifetime of horse-trading and successive conversions, he has finally found a genuine conviction which puts him in harmony with himself and the nation."

  • "Between Chirac's irrevocable 'no' to preventive war as early as September 2002 and Bush's obstinacy to carry out his fatwa against Saddam, these long months of tensions have been but the chronicle of an inevitable break."

  • "Two days later, the 'letter of the eight' is published in several European newspapers. Chirac was taken completely by surprise. From Britain he was expecting such a low blow." [But not from the other countries who are "stirring up ill-feeling in Europe".]

  • "The argument [that Saddam is not disarming but lying] will be hammered home relentlessly in the weeks to come."

  • "Everything is done to isolate Benoît d'Aboville, France's ambassador to NATO … and to weaken the Berlin-Brussels-Paris alliance."

  • "Colin Powell is crazed with fury" ; "the Americans are drunk with anger" ; "Colin Powell repeats mechanically…"

  • "Dominique de Villepin's peroration on Iraq … France's opposition to war … It's his moment of truth, and Villepin turns it into a fine piece of eloquence."

  • Joining the foreign ministry with the goal of improving relations with Washington, he has in the meantime measured the arrogance of the American hyperpower, denounced previously by his predecessor, Hubert Védrine."

  • "Hans Blix denounces the pressure and the manipulation of the American intelligence services to heap abuse on Saddam."

  • "On February 15, Bush's belligerant crusade sparks demonstrations unprecedented since the Vietnam conflict. More than 10 million people march against the war throughout the entire world. … In an interview, Villepin drives the point home: 'Europe must be able to hold its values high and defend its ambitions'."

  • "The Mexican president no longer stands to attention before George Bush. Far from it. He has even pointed out several times that his country is opposed to war."

  • "The front pages of [American] newspapers try to outdo each other in bad taste and bad faith. … In France, the press is more moderate."
…like Le Point, sans doute?

International Community

"For the first time since 1949--the date of its creation--UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) assembled in Geneva for the past two days. This has been a unique opportunity for the international community to renew its support for the Agency's activities and its determination to respond to the humanitarian needs of 4.1 million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza. More necessary then ever, the Agency has been in a precarious financial situation since the beginning of the Second Intifada.

The UNRWA, which employs 24,000 individuals recruited from the local area and manages more than 400 million dollars from voluntary contributions, needs an increase in its operational budget in order to respond to the increased population that is dependent upon the Agency. During the meeting at Geneva, ways of increasing the Agency's ability to fulfill its mission in the areas of education, health and economic development were debated. Proposals were formulated, and they will be examined further in meetings at the Agency's headquarters and in the General Assembly of the United Nations. The development of three-way partnerships between UNRWA, donors, and the relevant authorities of the host countries was strongly emphasized in order to favor a better mobilization of resources."

--Statement of the French Foreign Ministry, June 9, 2004. UNRWA's Advisory Committee consists of Belgium, Egypt, France, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

A fond memory of Reagan Un bon souvenir de Reagan
The 1986 American bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi and the near miss on Gaddafi's ass.
Le bombardement américain de Tripoli et de Benghazi et le cul de Khadafi raté de justesse.

Saving the Brave

A French D-Day website has a petition to save the commemorative monument that one French individual (JP Delorme), on his own initiative and using his own money, built on Omaha Beach.
At the request of the prefecture of Calvados, October 31, 2004, marks the date that the commemorative monument The Brave must be removed from the sands of Omaha Beach at Saint Laurent.

We request that the statue be left where it stands in tribute to the 3,500 GIs who were wounded, went missing, and died for our FREEDOM on June 6, 1944.

Sign the petition

(Merci à K Engelhard)

Update: According to Watcher of Weasels, the (very) poor choice of a 1940s photo discussed in the comments section does in no way show what the monument is meant to honor.

A fond memory of Reagan Un bon souvenir de Reagan
When he made that candy-ass commie bastard Mitterand flop around in the mud during his visit to Reagan's ranch. The French Left soiled their collective panties.
Quand il a obligé à ce coco cucul la praline de Mitterand de patauger dans la boue lors de sa visite au ranch de Reagan. La gôche franchouille avait souillé sa culotte collective.

Continental Europeans who have balls Sur le Vieux Continent il y a des européens qui en ont
They do exist. Polish Special Forces help liberate hostages in Iraq.
Ils existent bel et bien. Des unités de forces spéciales polonaises contribuent à libérer des otages en Irak.

Answer: they both promise to take you around the world but wind up leaving you with your dick in your hands Réponse: le Charles de Gaulle et les nanas parisiennes ont plus d'un tour d'hélice au cul
Question: What do the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier and Parisian girls have in common?
Question: Quel rapport y-a-t'il entre le porte-avion Charles de Gaulle et les filles parisiennes?

Bad vibes Mauvaises ondes
The Monde Diplomatique, directed by Ignacio 'Mr. Ignorant' Ramonet, devoted several articles to the Allende myth. One article ('Le baril de poudre de l'imagination' ('The powder keg of imagination'), by Nira Reyes Morales) is devoted to post-coup Chilean literature. Many writers (all pro-Allende) are quoted, including hack writer Isabel Allende, without ever mentioning the 'McOndo' literary current (McDonalds-Macintosh-Condominiums) led by Chilean writer Alberto Fuguet since the early 90s (Fuguet is joined by other writers in this current, notably Edmundo Paz Soldán). The fact that these books discuss the daily life of young Chileans against a setting of urban decor, cybercafés, American TV re-runs, fast food, and frequent hops over to the States to chase their American dream is a sure turn off for France's intellectual kapos (plus the fact Fuguet had the balls to throw a publication party in a McDonalds). Since these books do not discuss the question of 'political trauma' and do not waste time condemning the 'dictatorship' they are a bit at odds with the French point of view. The Paris intelligentsia, which played an important role in consecrating the 'magical realism' literary current launched by Castro's best friend Gabriel Garcia Marquez, prefers to ignore the existence of 'McOndo'. Despite the fact that these books are now available throughout Latin America, North America, and Europe, none of them have been translated into French. That's called censorship. There is no need to burn books if you never print them. It's pathetic. It's cowardly. It's typically French.
Le Monde Diplomatique, dirigé par Ignacio 'L'Ignare' Ramonet, consacre de nombreux articles au mythe Allende. Un article ('Le baril de poudre de l'imagination', par Nira Reyes Morales) est consacré à la littérature chiléenne depuis le putsch. De nombreux écrivains (tous pro-Allende) sont cités, y compris bien sûr l'écrivaillon Isabel Allende, sans jamais parler du mouvement littéraire 'McOndo' (McDonalds-Macintosh-Condominiums) mené par le chilien Alberto Fuguet depuis le début des années 90 (Fuguet est rejoint par d'autres écrivains dans ce courant, notamment Edmundo Paz Soldán). Le fait que ces livres racontent le quotidien des jeunes chiléens sur fond de décors urbains, de cybercafés, de rediffusions de feuilletons américains, de fast food, et de sauts fréquents aux Etats-unis à la recherche de leur rêve américain n'a évidemment rien pour plaire aux kapos intellos de la gôche franchouille (en plus du fait que Fuguet a eu les couilles de fêter publiquement la sortie d'un de ses livres dans un McDo). Comme ces livres ne traitent pas la question des 'traumas politiques' et ne passent pas leur temps à condamner 'la dictature' cela fait un peu désordre avec tout ce qu'on raconte en Fwance à ce sujet. L'intelligentsia parigotte, qui a joué un rôle important dans l'encensement du mouvement littéraire du 'réalisme magique' du meilleur pote de Castro, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, préfère tout ignorer de 'McOndo'. Bien que ces livres soient disponibles en Amérique latine, en Amérique du Nord, et en Europe, aucun livre de ces auteurs n'est traduit en français. Ça s'appelle la censure. Pas besoin d'autodafé à partir du moment où les livres ne voient jamais le jour. C'est pathétique. C'est lâche. C'est typiquement français.

I wish I'd written this first

...because I love it:
Ronald Reagan claimed that the Russian language had no word for "freedom." (The word is "svoboda"; it's quite well attested in Russian literature.) Ronald Reagan said that intercontinental ballistic missiles (not that there are any non-ballistic missiles—a corruption of language that isn't his fault) could be recalled once launched. Ronald Reagan said that he sought a "Star Wars" defense only in order to share the technology with the tyrants of the U.S.S.R. Ronald Reagan professed to be annoyed when people called it "Star Wars," even though he had ended his speech on the subject with the lame quip, "May the force be with you." Ronald Reagan used to alarm his Soviet counterparts by saying that surely they'd both unite against an invasion from Mars. Ronald Reagan used to alarm other constituencies by speaking freely about the "End Times" foreshadowed in the Bible. In the Oval Office, Ronald Reagan told Yitzhak Shamir and Simon Wiesenthal, on two separate occasions, that he himself had assisted personally at the liberation of the Nazi death camps.

There was more to Ronald Reagan than that. Reagan announced that apartheid South Africa had "stood beside us in every war we've ever fought," when the South African leadership had been on the other side in the most recent world war. Reagan allowed Alexander Haig to greenlight the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, fired him when that went too far and led to mayhem in Beirut, then ran away from Lebanon altogether when the Marine barracks were bombed, and then unbelievably accused Tip O'Neill and the Democrats of "scuttling." Reagan sold heavy weapons to the Iranian mullahs and lied about it, saying that all the weapons he hadn't sold them (and hadn't traded for hostages in any case) would, all the same, have fit on a small truck. Reagan then diverted the profits of this criminal trade to an illegal war in Nicaragua and lied unceasingly about that, too. Reagan then modestly let his underlings maintain that he was too dense to understand the connection between the two impeachable crimes. He then switched without any apparent strain to a policy of backing Saddam Hussein against Iran. (If Margaret Thatcher's intelligence services had not bugged Oliver North in London and become infuriated because all European nations were boycotting Iran at Reagan's request, we might still not know about this.)

One could go on. I only saw him once up close, which happened to be when he got a question he didn't like. Was it true that his staff in the 1980 debates had stolen President Carter's briefing book? (They had.) The famously genial grin turned into a rictus of senile fury: I was looking at a cruel and stupid lizard. His reply was that maybe his staff had, and maybe they hadn't, but what about the leak of the Pentagon Papers? Thus, a secret theft of presidential documents was equated with the public disclosure of needful information. This was a man never short of a cheap jibe or the sort of falsehood that would, however laughable, buy him some time.

The fox, as has been pointed out by more than one philosopher, knows many small things, whereas the hedgehog knows one big thing. Ronald Reagan was neither a fox nor a hedgehog. He was as dumb as a stump. He could have had anyone in the world to dinner, any night of the week, but took most of his meals on a White House TV tray. He had no friends, only cronies. His children didn't like him all that much. He met his second wife—the one that you remember—because she needed to get off a Hollywood blacklist and he was the man to see. Year in and year out in Washington, I could not believe that such a man had even been a poor governor of California in a bad year, let alone that such a smart country would put up with such an obvious phony and loon.
I don't care if it makes 60% of NP readers stammer and drool. I'll say it anyway: I always hated Ronald Reagan.

Yes, the American is our friend, by André Glucksmann

LE MONDE | 05.06.04 | 13h47  •  UPDATED 07.06.04 | 08h53

For better of for worse, the United States remains a democracy. The most exemplary of democracies, even.

Ten years ago, I regretted the German chancellor's absence at the Normandy ceremonies. I won't now deny my own pleasure, as much personal as philosophical.

Thank you to the soldiers who landed on June 6 1944, while the Resistance network in which my mother and my elder sisters worked was falling into Klaus Barbie's claws. Detention, torture, broken bodies sent we knew where never to return.

Thank you to the Americans, British, Canadians and Australians who saved the rest of my family. Thanks to those who allowed the French of to-day not to be forced to think Nazi or Stalinist. Thank you to those who broke the Atlantic wall and who helped us until the fall of Berlin.

Without D-Day, there would be no new Europe of six, 15, 25 or more. I have still within in me — a privilege of age — the cosmic, ecstatic joy that irrupted in my child's head when grown-ups uttered the word "liberation."

It wasn't until the middle 1970s that a president of the Federal Republic clearly and distinctly recognized that Germany, at the end of the Second World War, was not "invaded" but "liberated." It was so that the decisive difference between the two words could be apparent that strangers and members of my family died in Lyon, Omaha Beach, Stalingrad.

These days, we speak erroneously of "international legitimacy." The only real such international legitimacy was inaugurated on the beaches of Normandy. If the UN, despite its slovenly aspects, does not entirely resemble the unhappy League of Nations, this is because its creators in San Francisco swore that Japan and Germany would neither be conquered nor colonized but simply and purely liberated from fascism. Whence come two principles that, while tacitly supporting the United Nations Charter, determine its inevitable ambiguities and contradictions.

1. The right of peoples to be liberated;

2. The self-limitation of the rights of the victor, who is both forbidden from conquest and the introducer of democracy.

The right of peoples to be freed from extreme despotism — the right to D-Day — takes precedence over the secular principle of sovereignty. In light of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the experience of totalitarianism, the right of peoples to determine their own fates must neither guarantee nor imply the right of governments to determine the fate of their peoples.

The Normandy landings are at the basis of the recent interventions in Kosovo, Afghanistan and in Iraq, even without the Security Council's backing. This is for a decisive reason: the inaugural legitimacy that presided over the formation of the United Nations outranks the commonplace jurisprudence of the institutions that emerged from this founding legitimacy. Insofar as, on the occasion of tenth anniversary of the genocide of the Tutsis in Rwanda, the memory of ghastly fiascos in UN management can escape no one — and certainly not Kofi Annan, who vainly preaches the urgent need for a radical reform of international institutions and legislation.

Can the United States still claim the right of intervention, itself baptized in the blood spilled to liberate Europe? Yes. Despite the recent outrages committed in the Iraqi prisons, themselves morally insufferable, politically counter-productive and strategically absurd and for which they bear full responsibility? Yes.

For better of for worse, the United States remains a democracy. The most exemplary of democracies, even. The only one to my knowledge that has not censored during war time the publication of the crimes committed by its soldiers. The only one in which the press and television revealed in the space of a few weeks the scale of the brutality and freely examined the ins and outs of the accomplished disaster. The only one in which the parliamentary fact-finding bodies require the testimony of a president, ministers, generals, heads of intelligence agencies, questioning them without exceptions or restrictions.

I recall that France, so generous in giving lessons, has never in forty years indicted, tried or sentenced a single soldier who practiced torture during the war of Algeria.

It was in the year 2000 that the so-called "events" (1954-1961) were officially designated a "war" by parliament.

It was fifty years after the fires were extinguished that the French president recognized what the Republic was responsible for between 1940 and 1945.

And it is to-day, ten years after the fact, that, unlike Belgium, the UN and Washington, our country, both right and left, refuses to issue any apology to the Tutsis, victims of genocide.

Here are such things that elevate us French to moral heights inaccessible to the roughneck Yankees beset with an insolent press, a questioning Senate and leaders required to open their files and to explain themselves in the present.

Elsewhere, listen to the difference. Omertà rules. April 2004. The first video tape: systematic torture, eyes gouged out, limbs torn off suspected combatants, a pyramid of bodies. Second video tape: the cold-blooded execution of a mother and her five children (from 12 months to seven years old) in the outskirts of Shatoy (Chechnya). Two accounts filmed by Russian soldiers disgusted by the high deeds of their brothers in arms. A single Moscow newspaper, Novaya Gazeta publishes the photos. No waves. Radio silence. TV silence. Prosecutorial silence. Not a word from the military and political hierarchies. Global silence. Bush is greeted under protest. Putin as a brother.

Still, alone to this day, the American citizen dares to face, try and genuinely punish the infamies committed in his name. America is not peopled by angels but she remains the prime land of human rights because, more than the others, she has acquired the means to shed light on, and therefore to halt, such violations. Human rights measure our ability to resist the inhuman, the evil that faces us like a devil and that each of us carries within him.

André Glucksmann is a philosopher.


Tuesday, June 08, 2004


W.'s true identity revealed at last:

The Capture of the Enemy Banner

"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…" Listening only to the courage in their hearts, Erik and Ray decided to boldly move behind enemy lines, stealthily infiltrating the legions of their foes.

With the assistance of three natives, our dastardly duo moved about among the enemy, gathering intelligence concerning the nature of its propaganda and membership, and at one point making a reckless attempt to create mayhem, an attempt which was mercilessly suppressed.

Thereafter, Erik and Ray had no choice but to operate with more circumspection. The three natives had mysteriously vanished (we are unaware of their fate and fear the worst), and the two foreigners gave up their plan to capture a couple of prisoners. But thanks to the help of a diversionary tactic by Ray, Erik managed to grab hold of an enemy banner, and before the foe could react, they had skedaddled into the heart of darkness. The foes' angry shrieks of frustration reached their ears as the Parisian métro pulled out of the Bastille station at the last moment…

Waving Old Glory over the captured trophyThe enemy banner on Erik's balcony

Diplomatic Development

Rumor has it that a Syrian diplomat by the name of Mohamed Skef has asked the French government for political asylum. No word yet from the French government.

Remembering Ronnie

The challenge, at least in the early years, was to persuade Europeans that [Ronald] Reagan was actually guiding U.S. foreign and domestic policy. In Europe, the media and political elite treated Reagan with scorn.

Whenever I went back to Europe in Reagan's first term, our European friends would helpfully inform us that Reagan was a B-movie actor, a cowboy (both of which he was proud of) and a "warmonger" — which he definitely was not.

These comments said more about Europeans' ignorance of America than they did about Reagan. Europeans are used to their politicians working their way up parliamentary and party ladders before becoming leaders, and are often unaware that Americans pride themselves on the fact that almost anyone can seek the presidency.

Europeans tend to think of typical American leaders as sophisticated northeastern types from the Washington-Boston corridor, even though such people represent only a tiny fraction of today's America.

This is one reason why so many Europeans are assuming John Kerry is bound to win this year. One hears exactly the same small-minded insults ("dumb cowboy") hurled at President George W. Bush as were directed at Reagan two decades ago.

Be sure to read Reginald Dale's article on the Gipper in the International Herald Tribune, especially the second half devoted to the "two fond memories [that] illustrate Reagan's unique talent."

Lire la version française

Chiraq plays stinky finger with himself Chirak dirige au pifomètre
At Allah.
Chez Allah.

Ivory Coast

The fraying of any truce between militants and government forces is increasing anti-French sentiment in the African country. The taking of the city of Gohitafla by militants led over 200, pro-government protestors to the French embassy in Abidjan on Monday. They believed that the French forces were complicit in the rebels' actions (as has been publicly declared, in the past, by the wife of the current Ivorian president, Simone Gbagbo), and the demonstrators burnt tires in front of the embassy and vented their anger on several French motorists, whose cars were stoned. French schools in Abidjan were closed today out of fear of further anti-French reprisals.

Approximately 4,000 French troops are currently present in the Ivory Coast.

There will be no tomorrow Il n'y aura point de demain
So this idiotic French intern I got employed sees me come back with my lunch and he says 'What stinks like that?', and I tell him 'Your future, moron!'. From the rag that brought you the gratuitous 'We are All Americans' (as if Americans could be like this load of welfare addicted cowards), Le Monde Al Jazeera on the Seine carries Serguei's latest gem entitled 'Yesterday and Today'. Tomorrow there will be no GIs who will go die for José Bové©®™.
Alors, ce connard de stagiaire franchouille qui bosse pour moi, il me voit revenir avec mon déjeuner et il me dit 'mais qu'est-ce qui pue comme ça?' et je lui réponds, 'Ton avenir, ducon!'. De la part du torchon qui vous a fourgué l'insulte à vot' intelligence 'Nous sommes tous des américains' (comme si les américains pourraient ressembler à cette floppée de lâches accros aux allocs), Le Monde Al Jazira sur Seine publie le dernier dessin de Serguei titré 'Hier at aujourd'hui'. Demain, il n'y aura point de GI qui iront mourir pour José Bové©®™.

The "Heart's Extremest Hate"

May 8: Computer pirates take down the Islam-focused, francophone website, Oumma.

May 31: Neo-Nazi graffiti was sprayed on the house of a Muslim politician in the Alsace region. This act follows upon a series of similar ones that have hit the region of late. Several mosques and homes of Muslims were covered in swastikas during the month of April in Haguenau and Strasbourg. On April 30, neo-Nazi graffiti covered a Jewish cemetery in Herrlisheim. Two days later, a Christian cemetery in Niederhaslach was attacked by neo-Nazis.

May 31: Also on May 31, six individuals beat the son of a rabbi in the Paris region.

June 4: An 18 year-old Jewish student is stabbed outside his religious school by a man brandishing a knife who cried "Allah Akbar."

June 7: The Christian cemetery in Niederhaslach is again hit by neo-Nazis, who painted swastikas on tombstones.

The Slight Improvement of June 6th

(A translation of a Le Monde editorial from June 7, 2004)

On June 6, 2004, there was another successful operation on the beaches of Normandy. In spite of all that empoisons international relations, in spite of the profound disagreements that could have derailed a risky French-American meeting, Jacques Chirac knew how to emphasize gratitude on this sixtieth anniversary of the Allied landing.

Spontaneously, grateful French did their part. Between the red carpet unrolled for President George W. Bush and a genuine sense of the event’s historic dimension, Americans left happy. For his part, President Chirac cannot help but congratulate himself on the success of this anniversary.

What will be the real impact of this upturn? Far from the fanfare, political observers picked up on the obvious tensions that Bush and Chirac could not successfully hide during their joint press conference on Saturday at the Elysée. While it is true—as the American press emphasized—that the word “Iraq” was never once uttered during Sunday’s conference, the United Nations was duly praised—twice—by Chirac, as was the multilateralism damaged by Washington.

The vote on the Iraqi resolution in the UN Security Council, which is expected this week, should provide an indication of the depth of this new spirit of French-American cooperation. The negotiations were re-launched on Sunday in New York, and their primary aim is to enable the Bush administration to open the G-8 Summit on Sea Island this week with the diplomatic consensus from the UN as a backdrop. The stability of a compromise thrown together under such circumstances remains to be proven.

Five months from the presidential elections, George W. Bush can return home with his head high: apart from the Pope’s reprimand, Bush was not embarrassed during his trip through the Old Europe. Yet one must say that all was done to avoid any problems: Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense who, in the eyes of Europeans, symbolizes the Iraq occupation fiasco, was not beside his French counterpart: Michèle Alliot-Marie. In the midst of this lavishly celebrated alliance, another figure was notable by his absence: Dominique de Villepin, the man who was in charge of French diplomacy at the moment when France and the United States collided head-on last year on the international stage. More than Chirac, de Villepin is the contemptuous symbol of that confrontation in the eyes of Americans. One can only wonder whether de Villepin’s departure from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not the price that Chirac had to pay in order for George W. Bush to participate in this anniversary.

Nonetheless, it remains the case that the gap dug between Europe and the United States over the past two years has not disappeared at a wave of the media’s wand. The future will tell whether the spirit of Omaha Beach will inspire a new French-American partnership or whether, more mundanely, the only beneficiary of this rapprochement will be the American president in the next election.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Crashing the Anti-American Demonstration in Paris

When, on the eve of the anniversary of the Normandy landings, an anti-American demonstration saunters throught the streets of the capital of "America's first friend in the world," what's a disgruntled blogger to do? Specifically, how would a Danish-American blogger react, especially if he's accompanied by a German-American blogger and three French comrades-in-arms?

How about waiting until the photographers and cameramen are ready to snap away at the grumpy bigwigs at the front of the procession, whipping out Old Glory and a sign saying "Sometimes the cowboy is right" (and "We are all Americans" on the other side), jumping in front of their lenses, and breaking out in (patriotic) song?

(Photos by Medienkritik's Ray)

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
"High five, pinko!""Bon, ça suffit comme ça, Monsieur!"
Security guy: "J'emmène l'Américain. … Non, il est plutôt docile, il a pas l'air dangereux."
L'Américain: "…Above the fruited plain!"
Far from the Madding Crowd
Checkpoint Charlie: the handover"Non, Monsieur. You are not under arrest.
Zis is for your own good."
A final gesture of defiance

Watch the video (sound not too good)

The aftermath

Lessons from Zapatero's Withdrawal from Iraq

Based in Madrid, Carlos Alberto Montaner always hits the nail on the head on his website, including this:
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain's new prime minister, sounded the call to retreat with impressive speed. It was the first thing he did when he reached La Moncloa, Spain's government house. 'Tis a pity that haste is never elegant, wrote a tearful poet in love. But Zapatero went farther: he encouraged Dominican President Hipólito Mejía and Honduran President Ricardo Maduro to follow his example.

And — if the information published the Madrid daily La Razón is correct — he secretly asked the Iraqi warriors for a truce so that he could bring the Spanish troops home without placing them at risk in any more battles. …

French 101 Cours de langue française: niveau débutant
I get mail from guys who ask me what is the quickest way to learn French. Forget your college French class and Berlitz and just shack up with a French broad. Preferably a Parisian one so you don't have to decypher her hick regional accent. Listen to her bullshit and write down the words you don't understand in a notebook. Later on when she splits to go back to hooking work you can look up the words in a dictionary. Make sure you have plenty of booze and dope to get you over the hairy armpits and the pussy that she only washes once a month. Two months oughtta get you fluent. Afterwards dump her and get checked for STDs.
Il y a des mecs qui m'écrivent pour me demander le meilleur moyen d'apprendre le français. Laissez tomber vos cours de fac et les cours de Berlitz et mettez-vous en couple avec une gonzesse française. Prenez-en une parisienne de préférence pour ne pas être obligé de décrypter son accent régional de plouc. Ecoutez bien quand elle raconte des conneries et notez les mots que vous ne captez pas dans un cahier. Plus tard, quand elle se tire pour aller tapiner travailler vous pouvez chercher les mots dans un dico. Soyez sûr de faire le plein de gnôle et de came pour mieux supporter les aisselles poilues et la chatte lavée seulement une fois par mois. Au bout de deux mois vous parlerez couramment. Ensuite vous pouvez la larguer et vous faire pister pour les MST.

Is that a French tickler in your pocket or are you glad to see me? Gerhard, c'est clouté pour maximiser ton plaisir
At Allah.
Chez Allah.

Blowing a gasket Casser la voix
You will all be caught with your diapers down! That is a promise! I make you this promise on my mother's head! For right here, today, standing on the very head of my mother, which is our God Green Earth, which everybody who wasn't born in a fucking sewer ought to know and understand to the very marrow of their bones! They will invade you in your beds! They will snap you from your hot tubs! They will pluck you right out of your fancy sports cars! There is nowhere! Absolutely nowhere in this Godforsaken valley! I'm talking about from the range of my voice right here, clear out to the goddamn Mojave Desert and beyond that! Clear out past Barstow and everywhere else in the valley all the way to Arizona! None of that area will be called a Safety Zone! There will be no Safety Zone! I can guarantee you the Safety Zone will be eliminated! Eradicated! You will all be extradited to the Land of No Return! It's a Navigation to Nowhere! And if you think that's going to be fun, you've got another think coming! I may be a slimebucket but believe me, I know what the hell I'm talking about! I'm not crazy! And don't say I didn't warn you! I warned you! I warned all of you!
Vous serez surpris les couches-culottes baissées! C'est une promesse! Je vous fais cette promesse en jurant sur la tête de ma mère! À ce lieu précis, aujourd'hui, debout sur la tête même de ma mère, qui est notre Verte Terre bénie de Dieu, qui devrait être connue et comprise au plus profond de son for intérieur par chacun qui n'est pas né dans un putain d'égout! Ils vont venir jusqu'à dans vos lits! Ils vont vous enlever à vos jacuzzis! Ils vont vous prendre directement dans vos voitures de sport! Il n'y a nulle part! Absolumment nulle part dans cette vallée oubliée de Dieu! Par là j'entends à partir d'ici à la limite de la portée de ma voix et jusqu'au Désert de Mojave et au delà! Bien plus loins que Barstow et partout ailleurs dans cette vallée jusqu'à l'Arizona! Aucune partie de ce territoire-là ne constiturera la Zone de Sécurité! Il n'y aura point de Zone de Sécurité! Je peux vous garantir que la Zone de Sécurité sera éliminée! Supprimée! Vous serez tous expédiés au Royaume du Non Retour! Ce sera une Navigation vers Nulle Part! Et si vous êtes persuadés que vous allez vous amuser, vous vous mettez le doigt dans l'oeil! Il se peut que je sois un taré de fumier mais croyez-moi, je sais foutrement bien de quoi je parle! Je ne suis pas fou! Et ne me dites pas que je ne vous avais pas avertis! Je vous ai avertis! Je vous ai tous avertis!
Monologue of the 'Screaming Man' from the film: Paris, Texas, Wim Wenders
Monologue du 'Mec qui gueule' de film: Paris, Texas, Wim Wenders. VF traduite par W.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Last Exit to Brooklyn Dernière Sortie pour Brooklyn
The West's choice: pull out of everywhere or fight. Kill faster. Total war.
Le dilemme de l'Occident: se retirer de partout ou se battre. Tuer plus vite. Guerre totale.

Disagreements on the Left

Currently visible on the Internet poll page at Le Monde are the results of a survey of Web readers that numbered, when I last checked, 10,948 — a fairly sizable number. The question posted Friday was:

The presence of George Bush at the ceremonies commemorating June 6 1944...
...bothers you because of the US action in Iraq: 30.6%

...or pleases you: he is the representative of the country that liberated France: 64.4%

No opinion: 5%
On June 3, Libération reported that there were a few minor disagreements, shall we say, among the Greens on whether to protest Bush's arrival. Communist Party member of parliament Maxime Gremetz said that Bush "should be greeted with the respect due a head of state, the heir to our liberators." For his part, Gilles Lemaire, leader of the Green Party, says that Bush's presence is "legitimate" but that his arrival "calls for strong demonstrations." The results of Lemaire's words are visible in the actions of Green and PRG delegates blogged below. (Note that in that post I misspoke: Communist elected officials are attending all celebrations. The information comes from this article in Le Monde). Lemaire also told Libé that our "participation in the demonstration has met with no objections among the Greens."

This statement had to be corrected yesterday. Euro MP Daniel Cohn-Bendit (aka Danny The Red), a German elected to represent France, is currently on the campaign trail in Nantes. When he received the party's official communique, he reportedly hit the roof. "Bush must be greeted as the president of the country that liberated France. I was born nine months after the landings and, at this time, what is most important for me is gratitude. This is not the right time to demonstrate." (See this excellent debate between Cohn-Bendit and Adam Michnik over the Iraq war that originally appeared in Le Monde.)

One of the great things about the French national library is the National Audiovisual Insitute. The library itself, though highly controversial in design, is an amazing place to visit. It is located on the left bank of the Seine in the east of Paris not far from the Gare d'Austerlitz. The exterior of the structure consists in four glass towers shaped like open books stood on end at the corners of a rectangle. These buildings are where books are stored and contain some areas for library patrons. In the middle is an enormous garden that is set on a surface six or seven stories below ground and surrounded by the glass windows of the library, which is itself below ground and which also surrounds the garden. One enters the library and is immediately struck by the light which passes through the garden and then the windows, illuminating long corridors with blood-red carpets. It's quite something.

The Audiovisual institute is several floors down and it contains an enormous archive of radio, television and film. One can view DVDs of practically every television program broadcast over the French airwaves going back several years.

On the occasion of the D-Day ceremonies, the INA Web site is making a special selection of streaming video available from its archived footage of the war and the landings. Here is an hour of Vichy propaganda called France Actualités, lionizing the German response to the invasion giving a lengthy inventory of German military capabilities; all read by a man with a strong, nasal vichyssoise accent. (At least I think that's a vichyssoise accent). It includes a speech by Vichy information minister Philippe Henriot, who accuses the allies of using French troops in the invasion to protect their own soldiers. A large number of other editions of France Actualités are available here. There is also a selection of photographs. See here for a 27 second film from June 16 1944 with shots of newspapers "reporting" the allied invasion and showing German convoy on the Champs Elysées.